Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bridging the Customer Experience Perception Gap

Long lumped in with Customer Service, the entire Customer Experience concept is finally being acknowledged as a weighty differential in the quest to build customer loyalty and increase sales. Business Leaders everywhere must first understand there is likely a huge gap between the Customer Experience they believe their company delivers and the perception of that same experience their customers have as they work with them.

A recent paper by SuperOffice stated research showing 80% of businesses believe they are providing excellent customer service. That sounds good, right? BUT - the customers of those same companies feel that only 8% of them deliver excellent customer service. Now THAT should keep you up at night. While this research states customer service only, I firmly believe the responding customers lumped it in with the entire experience, as that is what motivates customers to return or leave.

Leaders typically look at their business goals, put some programs and training in place to enhance both the experience and skills, closely monitor what they think is important to the customers and in doing so they believe their customers are benefitting from a better experience. Let me be clear, the fact that they’ve even thought about how their customers perceive them is a great first step. Being aware that customers even have their own separate perception and wanting to improve on it is key.

But the real issue is they often lack the insight as to what their customers are really thinking… as well as what their employees are thinking.

The ultimate goal is to have little gap as possible between all three components - Leadership, Staff, and Customer Perception. Currently, as research indicates, the best of intentions among companies have fallen short. So, what to do? Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and start again… with a PLAN.

I often find that leaders think they are on track because they WANT to be on track. No one deliberately decides to go off the rails. But to be sure, a focused analysis needs to be done.

This analysis can be as informal or formal as you’d like… Meet as a leadership team and discuss the CEX your company delivers at a high level. Ask yourselves these questions...
  1. What do you feel you do well within the CEX? 
  2. What do you feel could be improved with the CEX? 
  3. What does your competition do differently with their CEX? Are those differences perceived as good or bad?
  4. What do you feel needs to continue to be done or started to improve the CEX
Be as honest and candid as possible during these discussions. There is no blame to be placed, only a plan designed to improve for the future. Now, these same questions need to be asked of your staff and your customers. The logistics may take some figuring, but this can be done in a variety of ways conducive to your setting.

My suggestion - Gather your staff and break into groups of 6-8 and document their answers to the four questions on one sheet. Analyze the answers from those groups and note the answers for trends and ideas.

Then do the same with customers. Focus groups, a cross section, industry-specific, etc - simply starting is key. Each specific situation may dictate a completely different model than another, but the key is to get the feedback from as many customers as possible to get a true feeling of how they feel your company works with them. Think TripAdvisor.Next, examine the responses between the three groups - Leadership, Staff, and Customers - and note the disparity and similarities between answers.

All four areas are important…
  1. What you do well indicates what draws your customers back and where staff feels training, empowerment, and capabilities are strong.
  2. What needs to be improved are key indicators of what could cause your customers to leave and staff to become disengaged.
  3. Just because your competition does something differently does not mean your company should adopt their practice, but be aware enough to know if your customers feel those differences add value.
  4. Pay particular attention to what they feel needs to continue to be done. The here is easily granted because it is already being done and not viewed as “extra work.” Things to start can be prioritized based on a variety of considerations, but be sure to consider each one.
Going through this exercise takes some planning and time, but the insight gained will be well worth every bit of effort. Getting into the minds of your staff and customers is the single best way to identifying and bridging the gap between leadership’s and customer’s perceptions of the Customer Experience being delivered.


Article reposted with permission of author

Kristina Evey | Ever feel that you're just one win away from a major tipping point that will help you and your business stand out as the top tier in your industry? I create that "win" for motivated C-Suite and Leadership teams. I'm a Customer Experience Strategist who loves to help Leadership Teams demystify the process of shifting operational and business priorities to the customer perspective and seeing revenue increase. I like seeing the "A-Ha!" moments at the C-Suite level when they realize how simple changes make huge impacts both internally and externally. I help B2B companies build strong connections with their customers by engaging at all levels to consistently deliver unexpected and amazing experiences customers are so delighted with that price becomes irrelevant.

Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter








Monday, October 15, 2018

Lessons from a Cold Call


Yesterday I received a cold call from a local real estate company.

Here's exactly how it went:
"Hi, this is Kathryn."
"This is Dan from XY Real Estate. Are you looking to sell your home?"
"No."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes."
"Ok, thank you. Bye."

No qualification, rapport or value and a HUGE ask. Why is that?

1. What gets measured gets done. If there’s a daily KPI around call volume, ensure business development reps have a caveat relating to pipeline stage or qualification and reframe what a cold call is today.

2. Believe in and enable social selling. Sales teams need to build relationships and get attention where buyers are. Content is the currency of the modern sales person.

3. Marketers, arm your sales teams with valuable tools and talking points that aren’t related to an ask. To stand out today means being interesting, memorable and relevant. Having and sharing industry data and insights is table stakes.


Kathryn Frankson is a B2B event sales and marketing professional at UBM. A believer that 2018 communication means knowing how to get the markets attention through thumb stopping content, audience development and storytelling, she executes sales and marketing strategies in the catering, special event, cruise shipping and pharmaceutical space.

Connect: LinkedIn

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

4 Best Practices To Incorporate Wellness In Your Contact Center



In the contact center community, we understand the true value of a happy customer. We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that we leave our customer satisfied.

But, let’s consider this for a moment:

In order to take the best care of others, we must first take the best care of ourselves.

Do you agree with the above statement?

If we’re not taking care of ourselves, how the heck are we supposed to truly care for our customers? We can give-give-give but at some point, we may burnout.

Health is not a one-size-fits-all box. What is healthy for me may not be healthy for you and vice versa. We can’t force our team to eat the healthy snacks and ditch the soda. We can’t tell everyone to hop on xyz diet for the company weight loss challenge. Wellness in the workplace is much more complex.

And, it all starts with you.

How often is it that we see someone in the workplace start to appear more vibrant? They have more energy than you’d know what to do with, their skin and hair is glowing and they rarely seem to fall victim to that afternoon slump. Of course you want what they are having!

When one person takes the lead from a place that isn’t forced, others might follow. And when this act of self-care catches on, it can spread like a wildfire.

When we create a culture of self-care in the workplace, contact center teams become healthier, more productive, engaged and overall satisfied which in turn can reduce turnover, cut healthcare costs and simply make the environment that much better to go to every day.

As your personal customer service health coach, I guide leaders and teams through this journey.


In this article, I’m going to give you three new ways to look at wellness in the workplace as well as helpful tips for you to incorporate with your team right now.


1. Rethink Movement 

Often, we think that unless our workout is an hour sweat-fest every single day, it isn’t worth it. So instead, we end up doing nothing at all. We’re busy. We’re tired. As contact center agents, we find ourselves sitting still the majority of our shift. We’re often emotionally and mentally exhausted. That extra long workout at the gym may seem overwhelming at the end of a long day, which is why you continue to skip it altogether. Instead, what could it look like to rethink movement as being simply a way to move your body instead of some forced chaos that you really don’t even want to do in the first place? Walking. Dancing. Stretching. Give yourself permission to think about movement outside of the normal treadmill at the gym. Start small - add in movement in doses that seem ridiculously silly yet truthfully realistic: 5 minutes a day, twice a week. 10 minutes a day, once a week. Eventually, increase the time. To what can you commit?

Try this: Pick one or two breaks per work week and commit to 5 to 10 minutes of movement. This might be walking around the parking lot, taking the stairs, doing easy yoga stretches or even turning on music in a secluded area of the office and dancing. Schedule your daily movement activity into your calendar to ensure you don’t forget!
2. Remember to Breathe

If you’re reading this, you’re breathing. I get it. How can you forget to breathe? But are you really breathing? Anxiety prone or not, taking deep belly-filled controlled breaths throughout the day can send signals to your brain to calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, increase alertness and even boost your immune system. Especially when dealing with high stress situations and absorbing the energy from angry customers, deep breathing can play an important role in giving you the patience and awareness you need to assist customers. Don’t wait for a frustrating situation to breathe - incorporate this before meetings, post lunch before returning to work or even mid-day instead of reaching for more coffee. Deep breathing is less about clearing all the thoughts from your mind, which is impossible, and more about giving your body the opportunity to reset and calm.

Try this: Once per day, set aside 40 seconds for 3 deep belly breaths. This can be done somewhere quiet or loud, depending on your environment. With your eyes closed or open, breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Release your breath out your mouth for a count of 5. Do this for 3 cycles.

3. Crowd Out

 Deprivation is not a healthy approach - even when it comes to those darn maple donuts in  the break room. Crowding out is a natural process that happens when you add in more of the good stuff as opposed to cutting it all out and telling yourself you’re a horrible human with lack of willpower because you once again helped yourself to that donut. If you focus on all the foods you tell yourself you can’t eat, guess what - that’s what you’re going to crave the most. If you are trying to eat healthier and cut out processed food, add in more awesomely nourishing foods to crowd out the old neural pathways and form a new habit. I worked with a client who loved fries but knew she needed to cut back because she was eating them almost every day. Instead of restricting, she added roast broccoli and carrots dipped in ketchup to her meal along with the fries. After some time, she noticed that she was craving the broccoli and carrots more so than the fries.

Try this: If healthier snacks like fresh fruit, veggies and nuts are not available to you in your office, plan in advance, leave them out the morning before work and bring them with you to the office. Shift your mindset - munch on these foods not from a place of restriction but rather from a place of nourishment. You can still have the donut. You may start to notice that over time, the donut doesn’t do as much to support you as do the healthier foods. 



4. Non-Plate Nourishment

 You are more than the food on your plate. Yes, the food you eat to nourish and support you with energy to live, is important. But, other non-food areas such as relationships, movement, creativity, career, spirituality and joy to name a few can contribute to your overall health and wellness. You can eat all the kale in the world but if you’re in a career you hate, an abusive relationship, get little sleep and lack joy in your life, you are not going to be authentically “healthy”. By taking the time to look into non-food areas of your life that may need more attention, you are expanding your definition of health. You’re understanding and aware of the impact of habits and how they play into your well-being on a daily basis.

Try this: To get a snapshot of all areas that can contribute to your health, complete the Circle of Life exercise. What stands out? What would need to shift in order for you to bring more of one thing to your life? Talk about it with someone you trust. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection. This exercise may look different from day to day depending on what is going on in your life. Having the awareness around this will make a big impact.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Jenny Dempsey is an experienced customer service manager with a demonstrated history of working in the telecommunications industry. She is skilled in customer service support and leadership. She has strong social media and communication knowledge. Jenny is also an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.

Trying to make healthy shifts in your contact center and it’s just not working? Invite me to your workplace to guide your team! For more information, visit: https://www.dempseywellness.org/business

Or contact me here:
jenny@jennydempseywellness.com
(858) 771-4179

Friday, October 5, 2018

Customer Service Quote of the Day


Why Should Core Values be Reflected in Your Customer Experience?


Core Values - The fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.

Core Values serve as the guiding light for how everyone in your company interacts, communicates and works with each other, external customers, and the community. The core values are the solid foundational building blocks on which your culture is built. They are your company's principles, beliefs, or philosophy of values.

Core Values provide the framework to help guide many business decisions. When weighing options - refer to the Core Values and the answer should become clear.

Core Values should be unique to your company. Just as your culture should only be able to describe your company alone, the Core Values follow the same idea. Consider examples of Core Values of the big names in business or your niche, but don’t copy them. Don’t try to be them. Try to be as impactful and distinct as they are… in your own way. Otherwise, customers won’t be able to state what is memorable about you and the way you work with them.

Avoid Truth, Integrity, Honesty, and Ethics as stated Core Values. Yes, I went there. My explanation… only because I feel these are inherent in any honestly run business. These will also likely be included in virtually every other company’s core values as well. Get to the Core Values that really mean something in a truly non-generic way. Your company Core Values shouldn’t be able to describe any company other than your own. So don’t include the ones that come standard with every other “Core Values Workshop” mindset. Let’s assume those as a given. If they can't be assumed, then you've got bigger issues than defining other Core Values.

Use phrases or sentences as Core Values to convey the meaning. A word to summarize the intent is great - but extend it with a sentence to demonstrate the meaning within your organization in a specific way. Example - Fun: We work hard, and we play hard. Fun should be included during the work day as well as our outside team activities.

Core Values MUST be exemplified at the leadership level. As with culture, leadership must model Core Values in their actions, behaviors, thoughts, and communications for them to be believed understood and embraced by staff. Should this not be the case, you’ll be lumped into the same category as the notorious, now defunct, Enron. As little as 18 months before their demise, Enron had crafted a Core Values list that was clearly only worth its weight on paper. Had they truly personified those core values, they might still be around today.

Core Values need to be evident in practice - not just written on a document because they sound good. After a visitor spends a day within your company, they should be able to look at your Core Values statement and they are evident by how the company and staff operate as a whole and were apparent and displayed in their own personal experience.

Core Values help in recruiting and hiring decisions. While I’m a huge advocate of diverse thinking and perspectives, the Core Values of staff personalities and characteristics should hold true to the company Core Values. These Core Values, along with your defined ideal culture, should be openly shared and discussed during the interview process. Pay particular attention to how they engage in this part of the interview. Share examples of how Core Values are internally and with external customers. Prompt discussions with candidates on how they might envision the Values being exemplified in the prospective - or past - roles. Their stories will display an accurate understanding of the Core Values and their creativity in displaying them to customers.

Core Values should serve as foundation and guidance, not limitations, for the folks you believe in and invest in to best represent your company and work with your customers. Similar to using the core values to guide business decisions, staff will use them in making daily decisions in their responsibilities. When deciding upon a course of action, if there is a Core Value to support one method vs another, the answer becomes clear. The Values, as a whole, should not be limiting in nature, but provide clarity and direction.

Core Values guide performance reviews. How well your staff lives by and exemplifies the core values of your company should be coached and rewarded. Let’s say you have “Taking Creative Risks” as one of your Core Values. If you have someone who does their job very well, gets along well with others, and customers rave about them personally… yet they take few - if any - risks, they should be coached in this area. First - be certain they really understand what taking creative risks means within your company. Share a few examples of creative risks that you yourself have taken or - concealing the identity - the risks that coworkers have taken. Since risks are never guaranteed as a positive outcome, be sure to share some that did and did not turn out as planned, but keep the way the risk was created and ventured for the benefit of the company or the customer as the main focus.

Core Values are ingrained by frequent and regular discussion and relevant stories. I’m a huge fan of daily and/or weekly team huddles. Have staff share stories about how a Core Value contributed a decision or action for a coworker or customer. Stories are how people relate, internalize, and learn information and concepts. Hearing examples from those around them, staff will start to build on those or take key components and create their own way of modeling those Values.

Embed the Core Values throughout the Customer Journey and Experience. When mapping out your Customer Experience, be sure the Core Values are consistent and evident in every phase and impact point. Pick key moments of influence in the customer journey and consider how the Values can be seen and felt by the customer in each. Have the Core Values in your marketing material, on your website, in the lunch room, conference rooms, walls, feature an “Employee of the Month” who models the Core Values in a newsletter, etc. Talk about them, discuss them, challenge them, find ways to integrate them into conversations.

By intentionally identifying, setting, and modeling Core Values, the more they will become the DNA of your company, distinguish you from your competitors, and make you memorable in the minds of your customers.

It's a beautiful thing...

Article reposted with permission of author.

Kristina Evey | Ever feel that you're just one win away from a major tipping point that will help you and your business stand out as the top tier in your industry? I create that "win" for motivated C-Suite and Leadership teams. I'm a Customer Experience Strategist who loves to help Leadership Teams demystify the process of shifting operational and business priorities to the customer perspective and seeing revenue increase. I like seeing the "A-Ha!" moments at the C-Suite level when they realize how simple changes make huge impacts both internally and externally. I help B2B companies build strong connections with their customers by engaging at all levels to consistently deliver unexpected and amazing experiences customers are so delighted with that price becomes irrelevant.

Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn



Looking to grow your career? Expand into consulting and management? Leverage your customer experience and call center knowledge to hit the speaking circuit? Building a personal brand on LinkedIn is the key to opening new doors. But where do you start? 

Successfully optimize your profile
  1. Add a headline. Don't overthink it. This is meant to be a quick invitation as to why people should click on your profile. 
  2. Update your summary. LinkedIn is a powerful tool but to take full advantage you need to be searchable and that comes from content and keywords. Plus, more context enables new connections and allows you to showcase your work. 
  3. Use your cover image real estate wisely. You can use this space to showcase your personality and professional focus. Canva is a free and easy tool for creating custom cover images. 
  4. Ensure your profile pic is set to public. This can easily be changed under LinkedIn's Privacy & Settings so that search engines and people not in your network can easily find you.
  5. Publish content. Because LinkedIn supports a mobile experience, organic posts are more algorithm friendly than outside article links (LinkedIn wants you to stay on platform). Also, spacing between content is more SEO friendly so keep that in mind. 

Build an audience 
  1. Grow your followers through strategic searches. Have you located coworkers, clients, partners, prospects and subject matter experts in your industry? Have you searched by hashtags, content and companies? Diligently build your audience through outreach and personalized messages.
  2. Social media should mirror a conversation. Don’t just push information out. Teeing up topics and sharing them is not enough. You need to jump into conversations and provide value. Search by keyword and topic and add your feedback in the comments. Providing value is the best way to drive awareness of your personal brand. Plus, the beauty of social media is the transparent and level set nature of it. There’s no gate keeper so you can immediately become a fixture in important conversations among media, prospects, event organizers and brands.
  3. Give recommendations and endorse colleagues as a way to build reciprocity. 



Get people’s attention:
  1. Now that you’ve created a profile and built an audience – deploy a content strategy that works for you. Do you like writing? Prefer video? Be authentic with your voice.
  2. Share your content and updates consistently and respond to all comments. LinkedIn weights comments even higher than likes so the more engagement per post the more your content will be served up in people’s feed.
  3. Have fun! LinkedIn’s moment is now and it’s a hugely powerful tool for growing your brand. It’s a big runway for allowing you to connect, share, grow your side hustle or expand your business. So, dive in, start creating and let’s connect! 


Kathryn Frankson is a B2B event sales and marketing professional at UBM. A believer that 2018 communication means knowing how to get the markets attention through thumb stopping content, audience development and storytelling, she executes sales and marketing strategies in the catering, special event, cruise shipping and pharmaceutical space.

Connect: LinkedIn

Monday, October 1, 2018

Why the Fuss Over Company Culture?


culture: The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another.

Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization's goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid (The Business Dictionary).

Needle (2004), stated that organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members. Culture includes the organization's vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits

Deal and Kennedy succinctly define organizational culture as “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000)

Every company has a culture whether purposely defined or not. The key is to be in the driver’s seat of defining your culture and being deliberate about shaping it before you are trying to reign in an undesirable culture that has taken hold.

Should you find yourself in the latter position… take heart, all is not lost. It is very doable, provided you make the commitment and persevere through the process.

When beginning the discussion of defining the DESIRED culture of your organization, this is the time to consider….

What would you like it look like to work IN your company and WITH your company? How is the engagement between leaders and staff, staff and customers?

What would you like the environment to be like? Relaxed and casual, or professional and formal? Is it an open working environment or one that uses high walled cubicles?

How would you welcome people in - both as staff and clients? Your culture will be apparent the moment you greet your first candidate or client. The friendliness factor, the thoroughness and follow up displayed exemplifies the culture of your company. Are you a company to be taken seriously, or are you one that looks great on paper, but in practice…. falls short?

Is there clarity around the purpose of your company and product or service? There will be a measurable impact on the success of your company when staff truly believes that what they do matters to the success of the company and the overall customer experience.

How much autonomy will you give your staff? Will they be trained and empowered to fulfill their responsibilities within the organization and with clients? Will they be afraid to take risks in making decisions based on the culture you are setting?

Do you desire a more formal and rigid top down management style or do you want to empower people to act with the entrepreneurial spirit? Questions such as these will feed into the amount of risk your staff is willing to take in making decisions or working to solve issues for your customers and clients.

Take action in defining, redefining, or refining your culture by having purposeful conversations with key leadership around the desired culture of your company. As your discussions progress, the process will benefit by giving staff the opportunity to provide input. Staff will have different perspectives and ideas to be considered when crafting the ultimate outcome.

I stress that Leadership should ultimately have the most input on the desired culture definition. Leaders are guiding the direction of the company and if they are true leaders, they should have the insight and understanding on the best course to travel.

Key Things to Consider...

Setting the culture begins at the top. Regardless of the size of your company, the leaders set the tone and example in the congruency of their attitudes, actions, words, and considerations when working with customers, selecting products, and engaging with staff. Staff will follow the example set by leadership, both good and bad.

Hire people based on competencies AND culture fit. I can’t stress this one enough. My experience shows that 90% of all customer experience and culture work is accomplished simply by hiring the right people that will support and sustain your desired culture. Should you have staff that work against it, or at the very least - don’t support it, this work can be extremely frustrating and ultimately futile. Even just a few people with the wrong attitudes can throw the entire program off course.

Example...You have two people your are considering for the same position. One is competent, yet lacks the years of experience the other does. Yet, the first one actively engaged during the interview when you discussed the culture of your company. You formed the impression they would be very helpful in sustaining the culture you are working hard to execute for staff and clients. The candidate with years of experience didn’t openly say they didn’t like the described culture, but they asked a few times if they could bring in ways of doing things that had worked for them in their past job and if they could work as they needed to on their own as long as the desired outcome was achieved.

Guess which one will be successful in your company? The first candidate. Provided they have the necessary credentials and training, you can train skills and competencies specific to your company. You just can’t train attitudes easily at all. The wrong attitude can dramatically derail your culture work.

Open communication promotes success. Companies with free and open communication are far more successful in establishing an engaging and successful culture. When staff feels free to ask questions and discuss core issues with leadership, they’ll be much more engaged and the culture is strengthened, thus the company “team” is united in working in the best interest of the customer and the company reaps the reward of their continued loyalty.

Consequences of not focusing on Culture?

You can be successful in spite of yourselves, but that is not the norm. Not taking the time to actively shape the culture is indicative of a “non-directional” culture prone to reactionary decisions, inconsistencies in customer experiences, and intermittent "lucky" successes.

Possible Indications of Needing Culture Work...
  • Employee turnover
  • Customer churn
  • Lackluster performance and attitude by employees
  • Disengaged staff
  • Minimum expectations delivered by staff
  • Low attendance at company events
  • Employee -vs- Leadership mindset
  • Declining customer loyalty and satisfaction ratings

Prioritizing the definition and execution of your ideal Culture will certainly pay off in many ways...
  • Morale will increase
  • Staff will willingly engage outside of their own responsibilities and do more than the minimum expectations
  • Everyone will understand and embrace the purpose of the company and actively work to support and promote it
  • Staff will feel empowered and engaged resulting in more thoughtful decisions to benefit both the company and the customers
  • Customers will benefit by doing business with a company where they feel they are part of organization actively working to help them succeed in their responsibilities and goals
  • The Customer Experience will increase customer loyalty and generate referrals
  • Increased referrals and loyalty promote higher sales, resulting in higher profits, resulting in the successful longevity of the company.

A strong cohesive culture is a beautiful thing…


Article reposted with permission of author

Kristina Evey | Ever feel that you're just one win away from a major tipping point that will help you and your business stand out as the top tier in your industry? I create that "win" for motivated C-Suite and Leadership teams. I'm a Customer Experience Strategist who loves to help Leadership Teams demystify the process of shifting operational and business priorities to the customer perspective and seeing revenue increase. I like seeing the "A-Ha!" moments at the C-Suite level when they realize how simple changes make huge impacts both internally and externally. I help B2B companies build strong connections with their customers by engaging at all levels to consistently deliver unexpected and amazing experiences customers are so delighted with that price becomes irrelevant.

Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter



Customer Service Quote of the Day


Customer Service Week 2018


Thursday, September 27, 2018

5 Marketing Lessons from Infomercials


Cheesy? Maybe. But I bet you can recall your favorite infomercial in a heartbeat. Here's why:

1. Easy, Clear Messaging
Never has someone watched an infomercial and walked away confused about the product, price or value prop. Keep it simple, stupid (KISS).

2. Obvious Upside
Super pumped for that free onion peeler with your food dehydrator? I bet you are. Reinforcers, surprise/delights and added benefits make saying yes that much easier.

3. Clear Understanding
Spokespeople are inventors, users, or (at face value) big believers in these products. It certainly helps to drive results when those curating the messages are passionate, vocal and genuinely understand client pain points.

4. Bold Statements
Infomercials might just be the opposite of a long, monotonous Sponsored InMail. They are memorable, visual and loud. And since we are in the business of getting people’s attention, it’s important to think about how messages are amplified in a way that actually has impact.  

5. Results Driven
You made a product update? Great! How does it actually impact your clients?  It’s easy to become insular and assume that all product changes are exciting but repeatedly speaking to how clients will see results connects the dots.


Kathryn Frankson is a B2B event sales and marketing professional at UBM. A believer that 2018 communication means knowing how to get the markets attention through thumb stopping content, audience development and storytelling, she executes sales and marketing strategies in the catering, special event, cruise shipping and pharmaceutical space.

Connect: LinkedIn

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Employee Engagement: Now is the Time



If leadership is wondering if employee engagement is good and necessary for their teams, I would have to emphatically say, "yes, it is!"

I have worked in the contact center environment for many years. I have had the opportunity to work for companies both large and small. I have noticed that at the smaller companies, the employees were happier and more engaged in the work environment, than some of the larger call centers. Most of that can be attributed to increased exposure between staff and leaders.

From experience, I have found that when management is more in tune to what their employees do on a daily basis, the employees will respect them and be more productive. Who wouldn’t want a manager who has taken calls, and sat in the position they are in today? It's highly probable those leaders are taking that into consideration as they lead their teams.

When management has familiarity with those they lead, they have a better understanding of what their employees, and can better sympathize and identify with their team.

As an employee engagement advisory board member, I realize employees have different motivation. Therefore, engagement must be unique and personal. Yes, all employees want open communication, and want to feel valued, but it may look different across the team. 

Team members who are unhappy, tend to call out more, are tardy more frequently, or have performance issues more than those who are happy and well engaged. The best way resolve this, is through employee engagement. Find out the root cause of the problem. Management should be proactive, not reactive. Having a pulse on the team and the individual team members is critical.

If an employee gets sick, or encounters personal difficulties, be empathetic. Send a card or flowers as a kind gesture. Consider offering a flexible schedule as they work through a challenging period in their life. Never forget, engagement is personal!

Talk to your employees about their career aspirations. Help them create a career path, and develop them personally and professionally. This leads to retention and improved performance. Not to mention, this is the role of a leader!

When employees are appreciated, respected and empowered, it is reflected in their behavior and work. They will show up and give the extra effort, because they know you truly care. They aren’t merely a warm body, sitting in a chair, taking calls.

Often, it is the little things that go a long way with employees, and are most significant to them. Those are often revealed through meaningful engagement, tailored specifically for them. That takes time to cultivate. Now is the time to engage.



Brandy Ard has many years of Customer Service experience across various industries. As a result of living in numerous places across the country, and working with people from diverse backgrounds, she is a well rounded, compassionate person. Brandy loves working under great management teams, as they make her job that much more enjoyable. "When you love what you do, you produce high quality work."

Connect: LinkedIn

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Customer Service Week: A Time of Celebration


The time for annual Customer Service Week is rapidly approaching! Are you ready? This celebration, which takes place the first week of October each year, is a week of fun, games and food – lots of food.

Here are some links to some articles with ideas on how to have a great Customer Service Week, just in case you are having trouble coming up with activities or just a little late in planning this year:
Of course, Customer Service Week isn’t all about the fun and games (did I mention that there will be food?). This is a week to celebrate and recognize those hardy souls who have chosen to become customer service professionals. Some of us are in industries with actual life and death implications, some of us affect the financial well-being of our customers, and we all have the incredible power to positively impact their day. This is a great opportunity to reflect on individual and team success – the extraordinary and heroic efforts and the seemingly routine that made our customers lives a little better. Some suggestions:
  1. Post or read customer comments from surveys and letters recognizing the efforts of individuals who helped them
  2. Have representatives share stories of how they made a difference for a particular customer or solved a difficult issue
  3. Celebrate improvements in team performance, especially related to Customer Experience
  4. Have company executive or the CEO issue a proclamation or share a note congratulating everyone on a great year
One final thought – this is a great opportunity to engage the rest of your organization in the celebration. Take the time to remind them that everyone is in customer service. The desktop engineer who makes sure your tools work every day, the HR team who makes sure you have enough staff to handle the calls, the Product, Marketing and Sales teams who make sure you have great products and service to offer; they all are customer service professionals too! Let’s make sure to recognize them this week as well!

I hope you all have a great Customer Service Week and remember to celebrate throughout the year. We have a lot to be proud of and I appreciate being a member of this great profession!


Vickie Friece  is the SVP Operations - Service Delivery/Funding and Reconciliation at MetaBank

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Follow The Leader", Featuring Janet Poklemba

How do you create actionable goals from the knowledge acquired at a conference? 

I’ve always considered conferences to be valuable experiences that allow me to learn more about our industry, and to stay on top of trends, technology and innovation. Connecting with peers is one of my favorite aspects of conference attendance, as we share wins and struggles of often relatable challenges. After a conference, I consider it very important to share the experience to help demonstrate how the investment pays off for our team.

Below are three tips to keep in mind to ensure your conference attendance results in action that helps to inspire, inform and move your business forward.
  1. Aspiration! Many sessions I attend are aspirational. They help cultivate a vision of where our team could be in the future. I carry these ideas back to work to contribute to long term strategy sessions. I’m always interested in how other organizations are creating better insight, navigating new technology or providing proactive and predictive service. This helps to build the path to the contact center our team needs to be to help our customers.
  2. Inspiration! Taking time to focus on my field is always inspiring to me. Customer Service people are awesome! There is so much information provided during a great conference that it can be difficult to remember so I’ve used Twitter to help me capture my moments of inspiration. Along with note taking during sessions, I tweet the key ideas that resonated with me. At the end of the conference, I review the tweets, pop them in a PowerPoint, and use them to help remember and share that inspiration with my team.
  3. Collaboration! Connecting with peers in other industries is valuable in building your network ,and they are generous with their insight and experience. This network of peers is critical when you are looking at innovation in your own contact center. Having a trusted colleague to reach out to, and ask about technology choices or services you want to pilot in your call center, helps you to make better choices more quickly. It also lends credibility to your decisions by leveraging industry leaders that have been successful with similar initiatives.
I’ve met amazing people, who do great work for companies all around the world. If you have a chance to go to a conference, take that opportunity to learn, grow and share the inspiration and ideas with your team. Better yet, bring a few team members with you, and take advantage of more sessions, connections and collaboration!


Janet Poklemba has been in the business of customer service for over 20 years in a variety of call center leadership roles working both sides of the BPO model and managing in-sourced teams. She is passionate about the Customer Experience and all things digital to help reduce customer effort and bring the voice of the customer to the decision making table. Janet is experienced in multiple industries including telecommunications, satellite TV, home warranty, HVAC and consumer products.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Customer Irritation Erodes the Experience You Deliver




I was recently at a business conference at a highly regarded venue. The presenter was wonderful and provided lots of strategies, techniques, and solutions for those in attendance. Participants walked away with a wealth of knowledge and takeaways ready to implement in their companies.

The food was great. The venue provided a light breakfast, delicious lunches, snacks, and a wide variety of sodas and water.

One thing that was a surprise to everyone was the renovation taking place on a grand scale. However, the venue did a remarkable job with signage to direct parking and where to enter the main building.

Upon the conclusion as everyone was walking out to their cars, I overheard several conversations focusing on two extreme irritations during the conference...

1. Access to the provided WiFi was impossible. While everyone could select the WiFi network and was taken to the login screen... everything froze from that point on. The screens simply didn't progress past the login screen, regardless of network carrier. And because the conference room was in the lower levels, we all transitioned between no network, 3G, and LTE random.

The irritation was that WiFi was presented as an option, accessed to the login screen... and then left everyone hanging. Several attendees mentioned that it would have felt better to them had it not been offered as an option at all.

As a result, one of the people at my table lost all of his notes he took on his computer. Apparently he was in LTE mode when accessing the online program, yet because of the inconsistency of network connection in the room without WiFi, his notes were lost as soon as he turned off his computer.

2. The room temperature was freezing 90% of the time. As in - I'm sure the aging process was slowed dramatically for those in the room during those two days. I know HVAC is a challenge in most buildings, but it is something that impacts the ability for participants to fully engage in an event. When folks are too hot or cold and the temperature passes their comfort threshold, they become distracted looking for ways to become more comfortable.

The interesting thing was that some of the attendees went to a local restaurant at the conclusion of the first day's curriculum and the temperature in the restaurant was so cold that a few folks went to their cars to grab sweaters and jackets. Someone even brought out a blanket from their car to use in the restaurant. When this was discussed at our table the next morning, one of my table mates said "If you managed a restaurant, wouldn't you make absolutely everything would be done to keep people comfortable so they could enjoy their meal? It was crazy cold." No one mentioned the food, the conversation, only the temperature.

The point... the conference content was wonderful. But when asked about the venue, most everyone mentioned the WiFi and temperature without mentioning the renovation challenge or the beautiful gardens that surround the building itself, the great food, or the nice room.

When this company hosts another conference, I wonder if they will consider holding it somewhere else because of the irritations listed above. These examples may not be deal breakers in your mind. The point is that they both caused extreme irritation for everyone in the room. One of the main drivers of customer defection is irritation. When customers experience frustration and irritation with a company, they begin to look elsewhere.

Where do your customers possibly experience irritation and frustration when working with your company? Is it hold times on calls, delays in email responses, set time expectations for resolution not met, not having a main or consistent point person to handle their account so they feel like a first time customer every time they contact you? Do business with your own company. Experience what your customers experience. See what irritates or frustrates you. If you notice it, your customers will too.

Are you willing to risk losing customers to irritations that could be eliminated or reduced? If you truly are committed to improving your Customer Experience, take an objective look at what your customers see and feel.

Article reposted with permission of author


Kristina Evey | Ever feel that you're just one win away from a major tipping point that will help you and your business stand out as the top tier in your industry? I create that "win" for motivated C-Suite and Leadership teams. I'm a Customer Experience Strategist who loves to help Leadership Teams demystify the process of shifting operational and business priorities to the customer perspective and seeing revenue increase. I like seeing the "A-Ha!" moments at the C-Suite level when they realize how simple changes make huge impacts both internally and externally. I help B2B companies build strong connections with their customers by engaging at all levels to consistently deliver unexpected and amazing experiences customers are so delighted with that price becomes irrelevant.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Workforce Management's Impact on Customer Service



Workforce Management drives CX

A biker friend of mine recommended a book to me called “Freedom” written by Sonny Barger – yes “that” Sonny Barger – a founding member and former Oakland Chapter President of the Hell’s Angels.  It took me about six miles, in one session, on the treadmill to read the book filled with Sonny’s rules for life.  Some of the bits resonated with me – others did not.  This bit speaks to me in the context of customer experience:

“Treat me good, I’ll treat you better, treat me bad and I’ll treat you worse”

Customers don’t really want to be amazed or have their hair blown back – just helped. They want the product they want/need, their problem solved, or their question answered.  They want those things done with common courtesy and respect.  Treat them good – they will do business with you, treat them bad – they will do business with someone else.

The Workforce Management function has many customers – the external customers, agents, business managers, finance, marketing…  Success is in finding the balance of forecasting and scheduling “Human Resources” to assist the external customers when they want assistance.

Have them at “Hello!” 
When callers negotiate the IVR and determine that human intervention is what they need, the distance between the IVR and the agent is significantly influenced by the efficacy of the Workforce Management team. When callers wait “too long” they become frustrated and they don’t feel valued.  Those feelings set the tone for the human interaction and inform the customer experience. 

Create consistency! 
Service level measures the % of calls answered in a # of seconds.  Some businesses require a speedy answer – think 911 and OnStar – where an immediate response is critical. Aside from that, speed is linked to cost and not to customer satisfaction. I tend to favor that sweet spot in the range of 80-90% answered in 45-60 seconds.  Most callers will not be bothered by waits of less than a minute – provided the quality of service is good. This range of service level goal improves queue throughput, significantly lowers staffing costs, and improves the ability to provide a consistent level of speed of answer.
 
Communication is key! 
Business people and marketing teams can craft amazing campaigns that result in strong responses and take rates. If the communication link between them and the Workforce team is not in place – the efforts will result in burying the call center in call traffic with no one to answer the phone.  You must answer the phone to provide the service or close the sale.

Hire the right Workforce Team!
There are certain skills in most job descriptions for Workforce jobs – a conglomeration of technical and analytical requirements. The intent is to produce a purveyor of data and algorithms to yield a highly efficient forecast and scheduling plan. Follow that simple formula and you will likely fail.  The right candidate must understand the people perspective – from external customer to agent; that an efficient Workforce plan must consider the customer experience and employee engagement as critical success factors, that embracing abundance means that everyone in the process wins.

Support your frontline agents!
Forecast to allow for vacation time off approvals – it will reduce unplanned absenteeism, calm stress, and improve employee engagement.  Allow agents the opportunity to plan for time off well in advance of the dates they are requesting.  Schedule to support work/life balance – offer flex shifts and lunch lengths, where possible.  Allow shift trades to give more flexibility.  Automate your processes – so they don’t have to find a supervisor or manager, tell their story of why they want time off, and await judgement. Forecast and plan such that they can use the time off they have earned to play, rest, and recharge – after all, they earned it. Treat them good – they’ll treat the customers better!


Debra Bentson has spent most of her career in Contact Centers with an emphasis on building and leading Workforce Management teams. Her leadership style balances structure, empowerment, accountability, results, and fun. She is a member of the NCCCA (Nor-Cal Contact Center Association) Steering Committee and an ASUGA (Aspect Software Users Group Association) board member. Dr. Bentson is a member of the DNF (Did Not Finish) crew at the Antioch CA Speedway – push starting sprint cars, clearing wrecks, and supporting track safety.

Dr. Bentson follows this simple prescription for life: "Work and play, laugh loud and often, be safe and strong, and live on your own terms". Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter